Where do our parties stand on support for big solar?

While our major trading partners are busy building large scale solar plants, here in Australia our largest operating plant is a little over 1 megawatt.

What are our political parties doing or promising to do to help Australia, one of the sunniest countries on earth, achieve its big solar potential?

ALP

  • The government, together with the Greens and Independents legislated a new $10 billion renewable energy fund, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation. It is a model for funding renewable energy that is working in the US and Germany and, while we have concerns about the possibility that it will support some gas projects, we support this body.
  • The government continues to support the Renewable Energy Target of 20% by 2020 but has no plans to expand it further.
  • The government initiated the Solar Flagships program in 2009 to build large scale solar plants. While two projects totalling 350 MW have been chosen, development of both has stalled. It is yet to be seen whether this program will be successful in delivering new big solar plants.

Coalition

  • The Coalition has refused to support  the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and has used the issue to attack the renewable energy industry as 'white shoe salesmen'. We continue to call on Tony Abbott to show his support for renewable energy and get behind this fund.
  • The Coalition continues to support the Renewable Energy Target of 20% by 2020 but has no plans to expand it further.
  • The Coalition's plans for renewable energy are contained in their Direct Action Plan. Here is our critique of the plan's renewable energy component, which to us seems out of date and in need of revision.
  • We have met with senior Coalition figures to discuss their plans for big solar, including Opposition Leader Tony Abbott and Shadow Climate Minister, Greg Hunt.

The Greens

  • The Greens helped legislate the Clean Energy Finance Corporation.
  • The Greens want to see the Renewable Energy target expanded to 30% by 2020.
  • Their plans for renewable energy are available here.

as at 5 July 2012